Writing an Outline in Narrative Description

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Step nine of the Snowflake Method is to go through each scene you created for the outline, and write a narrative description of what is going to happen in that scene, adding in any dialogue or partially written bits you come up with along the way.

A lot of people skip this step, but for me it’s very important. This is kind of my ultimate, get organized step. I go through the four page summary and pull all the information that has to be in that scene. Then I go through all the paragraph summaries for every character and note what they are doing in the scene, and if they aren’t in the scene what they are doing off screen during the scene, because even if they aren’t present, they still exist.

This is a fantastic way of making sure all the character timelines match up while plugging in all the threads for each subplot and character arc before I get started. As I’m writing that paragraph per scene of x happens and y happens, I often think of something that would have to happen first or would happen as a result of this, click back to my outline, and add it in to the appropriate scene. So a lot of my plot adjustments and practicalities happen before I even start officially writing the story.

This also comes in handy for summarizing my story for my editor or writers group.

This is also a great place to throw your story on the Story Grid, then go through and make sure each scene has all the essential elements to a scene in these summaries before you start writing. This is also a great place to apply the hero’s journey and the Save the Cat structure. You can look at each scene and determine where it fits in literally any plot structure you follow.

The biggest thing this step does for me is defeats the fear of a blank page. When I sit down and start actually writing out the scene, I know exactly what is supposed to go here, and bits of it are already written. It makes it much faster. And it doesn’t kill the creative flow of the story because it takes nothing to click back and adjust the scenes as I go.

Here’s an example:

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